Spending Less Makes You Happier

I grew up happy. I went on lots of holidays… ate at restaurants on special occasions. My parents spent much more money on me than they ever did on themselves. They bought me up happy… but they’ve never earnt much. They’re both very hard working and have worked all of their lives, but they’ve never earnt more than minimum wage. A lot of people would say that this put me at a disadvantage in life, but that’s not true. In fact, I believe that my parent’s earnings put me at a greater advantage than most. I know how to live with less, and I know that spending less leads to a happier, more fulfilled life. Let’s explore this notion together.


Thoughtfulness

The best gifts are always the thoughtful ones. It’s very easy to buy your loved one the latest gadgets or pay for them to go to a Spa. But nothing will beat the gifts which cost no money at all. Nothing will be more cherished than a gift which you’ve put time into.

Spending less invokes thoughtfulness. It forces you to think more not buy more. It cultivates the best experiences and makes you focus truly on what matters.

4 months prior to my 3-year anniversary, I started learning how to edit videos; solely for the purpose of making a montage of me and my partners last 3 years together to our favorite song. Each week I spent hours in front of my computer painstakingly learning everything I could to get the pictures, music and videos all playing perfectly together. I spent hours going through all of our old media to find our best photos and videos. All in secret!

Nothing beat the smile and tears of my partner on our 3-year anniversary morning when I revealed what I’d made for her.

Creativity

Spending less requires you to get creative. It requires you to analyze the best bits of what you enjoy and think about how you can improve this and make it better.

I realized that each time I bought a birthday or Christmas card I was using sites like Moonpig to send real-life pictures to relatives and friends. These were always the favorite cards which they received; they were personal and thoughtful. I realized however that I was spending hundreds of pounds per year on using these services. So, I sat down with my partner and thought; What do we really want?

The best part of any card is the personal note you write, even better if it has a personal photo too. The worst part of a card is not wanting to throw them away but them being bulky and non-uniform, making them hard to store.

We invested in some photo paper, we now only make post-cards for each other and relatives with a personal photo on one side and a personal note on the other. They stack, allowing us to store hundreds of our Valentines and anniversary cards in one storage place. They’re easy to put in a picture frame, they only include personal notes (nothing pre-made) and they save us hundreds of pounds each year.

Creativity invokes happiness; it’s actually proven to improve your mood. It increases and renews brain function and it also relieves stress. But most importantly; it allows you to make things better. It allows you as a human to analyze a problem and improve upon the normal constructs which society has told you to follow.

Adventure

The best adventures in life are free. Part of the beauty of an adventure is not knowing where you’ll end up. Spending less means that you won’t take the guided tour; you’ll find your own path, and there’s nothing more exciting!

On a Snowboarding trip a couple of years ago me and my partner were staying in accommodation with breakfast included. A lot of our friends kept stopping at the ludicrously expensive mountainside restaurants for lunch; they received bland food and poor service.

We instead made Croissant sandwiches from the provided breakfast and ate them on the top of the mountain. We got more time to board and had the best view in the world, better than any restaurant could have given us, all for no extra cost! These lunches were some of the most memorable times of our trip.

Spending less makes you take the road less traveled. You aren’t living out someone else’s experiences; you’re creating your own; ones which are tailored to you and your preferences. It forces you to be adventurous and fills the thirst which every person has to explore the unknown.

Learning

Learning new things equate directly to spending less, but it can also directly affect your happiness, and it pays dividends. Not only does the process of learning reduce stress and induce euphoria, it is proven to increase life expectancy.

Being a modern-day Polymath can also create stronger social ties to your community as you have more skills to lend a helping hand to your neighbors and interacting more with other human beings in your community is renown for increased happiness levels. It’s what we crave from our ancestral hunter-gatherer days.

When I was young and foolish I bought an expensive sports car. I was very proud to own such a stylish car, but I learned later on that this was instant gratification and wouldn’t add to my long-term happiness. In fact, it increased my stress levels. Being an expensive car which needed a ‘specialist’ to fix and service, I was too worried to touch anything myself. I ended up spending thousands every few months for seemingly small fixes.

After a year, I sold the sports car and instead spent £400 on a 1999 Skoda Fabia with over 150,000 miles on the clock. I also bought my self a good selection of multi-tools. In the year that I owned it, I learned how to fix a number of small issues, each bringing me a sense of fulfillment and happiness. I ended up doing my own MOT check and it passed with no issues before I sold it for £600.

I can honestly say that I was much happier with the Skoda Fabia than I ever was with my sports car, the forever lasting dread of thinking how much my next bill was going to cost was not worth the small bursts of excitement which I got from owning it. It saved me thousands, if not tens of thousands per year with repair costs, fuel consumption and depreciation. It also bought me joy from learning new skills.

I now just own a bike 🙂

There’s nothing that can increase your sense of self-worth as much as learning something new. It’s also proven that humans are more prone to enjoy things which they’ve built for themselves, over something which they’ve bought or paid for someone else to build. On top of that, if you build something yourself, you’re setting yourself up perfectly to be able to fix it if something goes wrong, increasing your self-worth, your saved money and in-turn, your happiness, all in one go!


On top of all of these things, there’s something which happens when you spend less… You save more! And we all know that Being Rich Has Nothing to Do with Your Salary. It’s about how much you have saved and having savings means you can have peace of mind in case the worst happens. It means you can have more time to spend on things which really do invoke happiness; like spending time with your kids or working on personal projects.

We all know that savings can help reduce stress, give you space to grow and in turn increase your happiness. But remember; you don’t have to suffer to save. Spending less can make you happier. Next time you take a trip or plan a date try not to spend any money. I can guarantee that you will enjoy it more. It will be different, exciting and adventurous and you’ll be looking back at those days with fondness.

For further reading into the Renaissance Man ideal, read Early Retirement Extreme. This book truly did change my life for the better.

Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence

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